There’s a difference between siblings squabbling because they are disputing one another’s inheritance and someone having a legitimate reason to contest a will. Every state, including Georgia, has its own estate administration and probate laws. To challenge a last will and testament, you must have a valid cause. If you’re considering filing a petition, you’ll want to make sure you understand state laws, as well as where to seek additional support if complications arise.
A probate court judge has the power to rule that a will is invalid. On the contrary, if the person challenging the will fails to substantiate his or her claim, the judge may rule that the document stands, as is. Such issues are often complex and stressful to resolve, especially if there is discord among family members.
Issues that may create invalidity in a last will and testament
The following list includes five issues that constitute just cause for contesting a last will and testament:
- The estate owner lacked testamentary capacity when signing the will.
- Someone coerced, threatened or defrauded the testator.
- One has discovered another, more recent will.
- Did not meet state requirements regarding witnesses.
- The will does not include all required provisions.
Testamentary capacity means that the person signing a last will and testament (referred to as the “testator”) clearly understands the value of his or her estate and the implications of the instructions that he or she is incorporating into the will. A testator must demonstrate clarity and understanding of what he or she is leaving as an inheritance, and to whom. Forging a signature is an example of fraud that creates invalidity in a will.
Has the will in question failed to meet requirements for validity?
If you believe that you have a legitimate reason for contesting a last will and testament, you can initiate a challenge in court. In a case where you believe that another party or parties coerced or threatened a testator, your challenge may spark contention. This is why it’s always best to have a network in place, so that someone who knows how to navigate complex legal issues is on hand to provide guidance and support.
While all requirements may appear to have been met for your loved one’s last will and testament, if he or she verbally stated something to you that is not reflected in the will or is opposite of what is written, you may want to ask the court to review the issue to determine whether the will is valid.